Kobe Bryant was a larger than life personality who showed that off in a number of late night television appearances.
The tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant was felt around the world on Sunday. The devastation of Bryant’s death extended far beyond the sports world and was a true testament to who Bryant was on and off the court.
Sunday’s helicopter crash in Los Angeles claimed the lives of Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, and seven others. There was an immediate outpouring of grief and support for the families of those lost that came from around the world and spread quickly on social media.
The impact that Kobe Bryant had on the NBA can’t be overstated. For today’s current crop of players, Bryant was their Michael Jordan. He brought five championships to the Los Angeles Lakers, the league’s marquee franchise. He showcased a competitiveness, flair, and talent that had rarely been seen before and likely won’t be matched in the future.
Bryant earned fans around the world for his personality off the court just as much as what he did on it. He was instrumental in expanding the global reach of the NBA especially in Asia where he is revered. Bryant’s interviews were always a must-listen for his honesty, sense of humor, and clear passion for basketball.
There will be countless articles and reflections written about Kobe Bryant and his legacy in the game of basketball. But his personality was just as much a part of his identity as was his 81-point night or any game-winning shot he took as a Laker. Late night television remains the place where celebrities from any industry can show fans their personality and give a glimpse of who they are when the cameras are off.
Bryant did that a number of times during his playing career and in his retirement. In just the short amount of time he was away from the NBA, Bryant’s retired life was productive, influential, and seemingly fulfilling as he explained in several late night interviews.
Here now are some of Kobe Bryant’s best moments on late night television to help remind fans and celebrate Bryant’s life on and off the basketball court. Enjoy.
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Kobe Bryant made more appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! than any other late night show. Bryant always received a warm welcome from the Los Angeles crowd. In Kimmel, he found a comedian who was a knowledgeable sports fan eager to get insight into Bryant’s mentality, his relationship with other NBA stars, and his life at home.
Kimmel interviewed Bryant after he won the Academy Award for his animated short film Dear Basketball. The Oscar was just the beginning of the second act Bryant had started to carve out for himself post-basketball.
The loss of Bryant’s daughter Gianna also stunned the world. A talented basketball player herself, Gigi Bryant was seen at NBA games with her father and was a frequent topic of conversation when Bryant was discussing his retirement. On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, he talked about coaching his Gigi’s team as well as what life was like for him as the father to four daughters.
There are a number of other clips available on Jimmy Kimmel Live!‘s YouTube channel. You can hear Bryant talk about his relationship with Magic Johnson, the “Mamba mentality,” and much, much more. It’s also where you’ll hear Bryant answer just about any ridiculous question Jimmy Kimmel could come up with.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
On the opposite coast, Kobe Bryant managed to get the New York audience at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to applaud him. The Tonight Show is perhaps the best place in late night for a celebrity to go and show off their personality. Bryant never really needed that kind of help but his appearances with Jimmy Fallon still managed to surprise fans.
The ’90s were a common theme whenever Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel got together. In 2015, The Tonight Show returned to Los Angeles for a week of shows. As L.A.’s unofficial ambassador, it was only right that Bryant was a guest on the show. There, he and Fallon recalled when they first met way back in 1996 at the start of both their careers.
The Late Late Show with James Corden
Kobe Bryant didn’t hold back whether he was playing basketball or talking about it. He was confident in his own abilities and in his ability to beat any player, any team, at any given time. His candor was put to the test in “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts” on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Watch how Kobe handles being asked to rank himself against Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
In so many of these late night interviews, you’ll hear Bryant talk about his relationship with his daughters and the importance of basketball within those connections. Everyone has been sharing the clips of Bryant and Gigi sitting courtside breaking down the game. Or seen the two of them working on her moves in the gym. In 2017, Bryant talked to James Corden about how he has incorporated what he learned in the NBA into how he coaches his daughter’s team.
You can spend hours on YouTube going through Kobe Bryant highlights, interviews, and more late night moments like these. Sunday’s accident affected countless lives and not just those impacted by the life and career of Kobe Bryant but all of the individuals who lost their lives. Hopefully these clips offer some relief from the grief and pain.